Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's Not Rocket Science

by Kerry Blair

It’s pushing eleven o’clock on Thanksgiving night. I’ve been up since six this morning, choppingslicingseasoningstuffingmixing-stirringbakingmashingservingeatingclearingcleaning and counting my blessings. (I have so many blessings I will still be at that counting thing well into next week.) Before daylight tomorrow, my daughter and I will be up, dressed festively, and out Christmas shopping. A little later in the day I will make our traditional turkey enchiladas, put up Christmas lights, and try to get a few dozen Whitney auction winners all the stuff they bought. (Thanks, everyone!) You’ll forgive me, then, if this post is not as warm and fuzzy and/or informational and inspirational as those that have preceded it. I’m exhausted and I ate too much. I am definitely snarky.

I hate that word. If it were up to me, it would be on a list of the Top Ten Most Irritating Expressions in the English Language. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me. The University of Oxford has already appointed itself the national authority on linguistic mangling and overused buzzwords. In a database called the Oxford University Corpus, they track books, magazines, broadcast, online media, and other public sources, watching for overused phrases we love to hate. (And, no, that’s not one of them either.)

Last Monday they released their top ten of 2008: At the end of the day, Fairly unique, I personally, At this moment in time, With all due respect, Absolutely, It's a nightmare, Shouldn't of, 24/7, and It's not rocket science.If any of those Corpus guys expanded their hunting ground to the LDS Church, they’d find a goldmine. Our culture seems to lend itself to the absurd. My personal pet peeve is those who implore God to “bless” fatty sweets and Red Dye #7 sugar-water to “nourish and strengthen our bodies.” I’d bet God is tired of hearing it, too. After all, wouldn’t answering that prayer in the affirmative be right up there with turning water into wine?

But that’s not why it irritates me so much. Mostly I dislike the . . . utter thoughtlessness of the expression. Just last week I asked an eight-year-old “blessing” Ding Dongs what nourish means. He had no idea. And yet we persevere in saying it. Over. And. Over. And. Over. How do these things get started? Do you suppose the Prophet Joseph once uttered it over some actual food and it caught on? More importantly, how do we get it to stop?

If you can’t answer those questions, you can still comment. Hit me with your absolute least-favorite nightmare expression. At the end of the day, I’ll compile the fairly unique suggestions into our own Frog Blog List of Linguistic Dislikes.

Or maybe I shouldn’t of brought this up. With all due respect, everybody else is into merriment 24/7 this time of year. Who am I to Grinch around? But since I simply cannot come up with a cheery blog, how about if I make this one worth your while? (What does that mean? What is your while worth?) Anyway, everyone who posts their personal least-favorite expression will be entered in a drawing for a This Just In gift set I never got around to putting up on the Whitney Auction.

Do it, people. It’s not rocket science.


At 11/28/2008 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living in a house full of semi-adult children, I have heard a plethora of these - can I come up with one today?
No, because my brain is as fried as yours this morning.

But since I want my name in on that drawing, I'll list one that a former roommate used to say all the time that irritated me to death: "is it not?"

That phrase drove me crazy, because I was always confused how to respond to it (yes, I am blonde.)
...You can't simply answer with a yes or no - it must be a long drawn out explanation such as "yes, it is not" or "no, I completely agree."

See what I mean? - so annoying!


At 11/28/2008 11:34 AM, Blogger Melanie J said...

"Nourish and strengthen" is one that gets me, too. When I was in high school, I pointed out the silliness of saying this for the donuts on Friday at seminary and we all switched to, "Please help us to enjoy our refreshments." Maybe blessings on the "bad" stuff should lend themselves more to asking that we can mindful of even being able to indulge in that kind of thing. I haven't quite figured out a solution.

At 11/28/2008 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, want my name in the drawing, especially since you didn’t give me a chance to bid on the basket, you know?

I was so looking forward to, you know, to winning that book and goodies. But, if, you know, if I can win it instead of paying for it ... cool, you know?

I used to hear this phrase (you know) at the end of practically every sentence from bubble-headed girls when I was a teenager.

There was a short time I when I picked up that annoying habit, until some kind-hearted person told me to just stop it. I can’t remember who it was, but I don’t do it anymore ... you know?


At 11/28/2008 3:31 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

There are two that I hate, and which appear all the time on blogs:

The first is using "said" as a synonym for "aforementioned". Yes, I know that it's a perfectly legal usage, but it's also way overused. Also, people seem to use it a lot when they're trying to be funny; it's bad enough when you use a cliche when you're trying to be serious, but it's far worse when you're trying to be clever. Attention people who use "said" meaning "aforementioned": knock it off. It isn't clever.

(Admittedly, I used to do it all the time. But, then I realized that I was being dumb.)

The other terms that bug me are the internet abbreviations "DH", "DS", and "DD". (For those who don't speak internet lingo, they mean "Dear Husband", "Dear Son", and "Dear Daughter".) They bother me for lots of reasons, but here are two of the biggest: first, if you weren't abbreviating the term, would you really call your kids "dear"? Probably not. And is the "dear" sarcastic? Is this like a "bless his heart" kind of thing?
Second, these abbreviations usually appear in big long blog posts. Why is it that you can write 500 words of blog, but you can't justify the five extra keystrokes to turn "DH" into "husband"? (Or the one keystroke to turn "DH" into "him"?) It just strikes me as lazy.

(Going back and reading what I just wrote, I sound very petty and complainy. Oh well.)

At 11/28/2008 7:25 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I wish you had included an example of your said vs. aforementioned gripe. I am having a hard time imagining that one. It would seem to me that clever people would try to do it the other way around and use aforementioned instead of said. (You know, because it sounds cooler.)

My two personal pet peeves are: 1) including a z on the end of a plural word to give it that sort of hype. (Examples: Warez, Bratz. I foresee Toyz R Us coming soon.)

2) LOL : Seriously, how often does this get used outside of its original meaning? I think I need to popularize LBNOL (laughing, but not out loud) And then, when I genuinely do laugh out loud (Monk: LOL out loud) then LOL doesn't seem strong enough. Do I need to be ROFL? IDK.

The ones I use and try to curb are starting out paragraphs with "So," and using the word "actually" a lot. I'm pretty bad, actually. =)

Kerry: my best friend's mom is in town for a week or so, and she repeated how much she enjoyed your books, so I'm going to pick up This Just In for her, if I can find it. And maybe the Blessings book, too. (My mom loved it.)

At 11/28/2008 8:32 PM, Blogger Doug Johnston said...

Hi Kerry. The one that drives me crazy is First Annual. If it is the first, it is not annual. It could be first ever, or something like that.

Next, when someone says, "he is so mad he is beside himself". Does that mean that he is cloned?

And the last one may get me in trouble. When people say "The Church", like the church is true, or are you a member of the church? I know that there are thousands of churches, and it would be nice if I knew which one they were talking about. Yea, I know, since I live in Salt Lake City, I am most likely aware of which one they are talking about.

At 11/28/2008 8:41 PM, Blogger Sandra said...

I, like everyone else, am sitting here in a turkey induced haze and know that there are a myriad of phrases that drive me insane, but alas, cannot think of any at this time other than those aforementioned ones.

My daughter just reminded me that I really, really hate it when someone ends a sentence with a preposition. An example that I hear all the time is "Do you want to go with?" With what? who? where?

There is also the habit of raising your voice ever so slightly at the end of each and every sentence so that it sounds like a question, even if it is not?

At 11/29/2008 5:32 PM, Blogger Heather Justesen said...

I have two that drive me absolutely crazy. The first is when people say they are going to unthaw something instead of thawing it. What, is it already thawed, but you plan to freeze it again before cooking?

The second one is 'I could care less,' Honestly people, have you listened to what you are actually saying? If you could care less, that means you must care a little--otherwise you wouldn't be able to care less than you do now.

Just thought I would add these, since they haven't been aforementioned.

At 11/29/2008 7:00 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Hey Jon, here's an example:

"The other day I was on my way to the doctor, when I stopped at McDonald's and bought myself a Coke. Later, when I finally talked to said doctor, I found out that Coke is actually bad for me."

Like I said, it's a perfectly justifiable usage--the dictionary says it's okay--but it drives me batty.

At 11/30/2008 8:19 AM, Blogger Keith Fisher said...

On a scout camp I heard a kid ask god to bless the food that it didn't kill us. I agree nourish-n-strenghten is overused. but sometimes I think we should Beg the Lord to make it edible and nourishing.

how about FYI I hear people use this in place of You might be interested or listen up.

the thing that bothers me is when someone begins a sentence with to tell the truth or the truth is ... or I kid you not ... makes me want to ask them if everything else they have told me is a lie.

At 12/01/2008 3:40 PM, Anonymous Steven O'Dell said...

I understand what you mean. I hate when the President says 'new-cue-ler'. Here's a new idea that's clear--IT'S PRONOUNCED NEW-CLEAR! And I flinch when people "bear" a testimony, as if it is a burden. I prefer 'share', as in a gift. There are other mis-uses that irritate me, too, but can't think of them just now. As a people, we are getting more ignorant all the time. The public fool system has done its job well, I am afraid.

At 12/01/2008 4:03 PM, Anonymous Steven O'Dell said...

How about "New and Improved"? Either it is new, therefore not subjected to previous improvement, or it is Improved, which would imply that it cannot be new.

I LOVE LBNOL! I intend to start using it immediately--a new standard (or an improvement on the old? LBNOL).

"Is it not so?" Okay, Data, you win. I think maybe all of us get petty about these infractions at times. We need to start a pity campaign for National Stupidity Week instead, drawing attention to the depth of the problem. Do we then slap hands of those who commit the infractions? Take away their birthdays? Forbid them to use the language ever again ("You have to use Russian from now on--sorry").

Or maybe we need to deal with our own aforementioned peeves and demons and let bygones be..oh, you know.

At 12/01/2008 4:17 PM, Anonymous Steven O'Dell said...

Okay, you got me started, you pay the price. I despise the lack of truth in advertising that still goes on and intrudes into the language. Example: "Pork and Beans".

Are they not required (sorry, Anonymous) to list in descending order the ingredients? And then be truthful about those ingredients? Truth in advertising would dictate that the label must read "Beans and Fat". The occasional chunk of meat that finds its way into the can is an anomaly, unintentional and a pleasant surprise at best. I am certain that as we speak they are implementing measures to correct this problem in the future.

Worse than this is the outright deception with intent to cause bodily harm. Example (A label you will never see): Contains NutriSweet--This ingredient is known to break down into harmful components at less than body temperature. May then contain formaldehyde...etc, etc.

Oh, That brings up another peeve: Ect. No, it is 'Etc'. It comes from the word etcetera. ("I'd like to buy a clue, Pat. Thank you, Vanna.")

I am sure I can think of others, but that will suffice for now.

At 12/01/2008 5:43 PM, Blogger Heather said...

My biggest pet peeve is when people say "heighth" instead of "height." We have height, and weight, and length and breadth, but not heighth.

At 12/01/2008 6:20 PM, Blogger Julie Wright said...

Ignorant. The misuse of the word ignorant bugs me so much. For example, "That man, I swear, is the most ignernt (spelling used phonetically) human alive!"

Ignorant means uninformed. It does not mean rude or snarky. 'Should of' bugs me too. At the end of the day REALLY bugs me since all the higher ups and management-type people use it at my place of employment. That and, "Oops, my bad." What does THAT mean? My bad? My bad what? My bad habit? My bad haircut? Are we all two years old, and incapable of articulating the word mistake? And what kills me is that sometimes these silly things rub off on me and I catch myself saying them. Agony!

At 12/01/2008 6:32 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Too funny, Julie! "My bad" used to bug me too--and now I say it all the time. What still bugs me is my teenage daughter's use of "sick" as a word of praise for something. How can "sick" be good?

At 12/04/2008 12:01 AM, Blogger Doug Johnston said...

I thought of others. When people say they are going to Walmarts or Kmarts etc. Are they going to two or more. That or people can't read the sign on the front of the store.

And one more. Any Who? When someone says Any Who to me, I cringe and run away. People use it for different reasons, but I haven't figured out a good reason yet!


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